One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Prison Break. The show is about a young man who is accused of killing the Vice President’s brother, and although he’s on death row, he is innocent. It’s all been a setup. His younger brother is an engineer who commits a crime in order to be put in prison with his older brother, so he can break him out. It’s an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat story where nothing ever goes right. And right before they break out, a fellow prisoner who isn’t going to make it, tells the brothers he has a treasure of 5 million dollars hidden in Utah that they can have.
That’s good news, right!? They can’t get jobs, because they’ll get caught and sent back to prison. They want to leave the country, but they will need cash. And $5 million is more than enough.
But the money isn’t just sitting on top of the ground waiting for someone to pick it up. It’s buried in a field somewhere and they have to find it.
This is not unlike the Story of God. Easter weekend we looked at Jesus’ death and resurrection, and last week we looked at three reasons why Jesus ascending, returning to heaven is a good thing.
The life, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus is a treasure worth infinitely more than $5million! It’s wonderful news to sinners, that the God we’ve rebelled against would show us mercy. And the best news is that we don’t have to split the treasure between us – Ephesians 2:7 tells us there is enough grace in the work of Jesus that he will continue to display this grace for all of eternity! Like the bread Jesus multiplied to feed 5000 people, this gospel of grace is a treasure stash that never runs out!
And here is the treasure: God created men and women to be his ambassadors, his representatives here in the world, and since we represent him, he asks us to “be holy, like I am holy.” Are you serious? That’s impossible. We’re doomed from the start. Psalm 24 asks, who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his presence? Then the writer answers that question: The one who has clean hands, and a pure heart, and who has not appealed to what is false. In other words, the only way we can access God is if we are holy like he is holy. Our hands are clean, perfect obedience. Our hearts are pure, never a selfish thought or motive. And we’ve never let something else have greater importance to us than the treasure of Christ. HOws that goin for you?
We think we’re climbing the mountain to God. We become the moral police, and point to others who clearly aren’t climbing the mountain of God as seriously or as committed as we are… which in itself disqualifies us from climbing.
The gospel, the good news of Jesus, the Story of the Bible, is that instead of waiting for us to climb the mountain to him, God came down the mountain to us! The gospel says Jesus put on flesh, that he became human so that as he climbed the hill to God, living the perfect life that would be required to be in the presence of God, being Holy as God is holy, that he would climb that mountain with a great company of people who believed he was doing for them what they couldn’t do on their own.
That in itself is a treasure worth trading everything in this life for. Jesus is the treasure worth letting go of all other allegiances, all other values, all other preferred outcomes for.
But the treasure is hidden.
It’s not sitting out in the open. It’s buried in a field.
If the treasure is Jesus, then the field it’s hidden in is the Word of God.
And Like the brothers on Prison Break, knowing where and how to dig sometimes proves frustrating. The most common reasons I’ve heard that Christians don’t read the Bible isn’t that they don’t believe it.
You don’t like that the treasure of Jesus is hidden in a book. You don’t enjoy reading, or it is difficult for you. When you pick up the Bible, looking for treasure doesn’t feel like digging in a nicely-tilled Iowa garden. It feels more like trying to chip away at a slab of granite with a ballpoint pen.
Or you look at the Bible like it’s the whole state of Utah, and you don’t know where to start digging.
So if reading is tough and you don’t know where to start, like those brothers on Prison Break, we need a map and we need help. And I have got great news for you today: God gave us both! Again we’re going to look at three scriptures that give a window into the work of the Spirit, and we’ll wrap up with how those three fit together in the life of a Believer.
John 14:15-17 - THE MAP
Counselor = guides, points, encourages.
Spirit of truth = Jesus said a few verses earlier that he is the way, the truth, the life. So if the Treasure is truth, and the Spirit is truth, they are inseparably linked. The Spirit will never mislead you or point you to another treasure. This GPS will never say “recalculating”.
John 14:26-27 – THE TEACHER/HELPER
Counselor = helps us get where we can’t go on our own
Teach you all things; Remind you of everything I have told you
2 Peter 1:20,21 – The truth of Scripture is written by men who were carried along, helped, inspired, instructed by the Holy Spirit as he reminded them of everything Jesus told them.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 – All Scripture is inspired (or breathed out) by God and is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training in righteousness, so that the man or woman of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Holy Spirit knows where the Treasure is… because he put it there! He can 100% be trusted to help us find and Treasure the work of Jesus. Along the way, there will be corrections. There will be rebuking: “hey you’re digging in the wrong place.”
The question you could have right here is “How do I know I’m listening to the Holy Spirit and not just my own ideas? How can I be sure that I’m hearing correctly?” – The Holy Spirit cannot go against what he has inspired in the word of God. Therefore, anything that comes into your head should be weighed against the word of God.
Example: Planting River City (go quickly)
Idea in my head – should I, shouldn’t I? What does the word say? Says go into all the world, making followers of Jesus, baptizing them in the name of the F, S, HS.
Yeah, but am I the right person to do that particular job? Scripture says there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, so I asked people closest to me what they thought. Took tests. Got assessed through Sojourn Network. They all had my back.
Now, there were times along the way, even recently, where the Helper, the Counselor, had to gently correct me. You’re anxious Rodney. You’re trying to climb the mountain on your own again. You don’t need to be anxious, because God is with you. Jesus has carried you to God. You are already seated with him in the heavenly places. Hey, Rodney, there you go again trying to be in control. You don’t need to be in control, because Jesus has conquered sin and death and can work even the worst of circumstances to your good and his glory.
Acts 1:8 - POWER/ABILITY
Power in action
What you see in the next couple chapters of Acts, is that the same disciples, who just 2 weeks ago tried to save their own skin by saying he didn’t know Jesus, and hiding behind locked doors for fear of being crucified himself, is now boldly confronting the people who put Jesus on the cross, willing to lose his own life for the sake of Jesus. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has given him the ability to see the Treasure of Christ for himself, and the boldness to talk about it.
Acts 2:37 – When Peter preaches, the people listening are pierced to the heart. It wasn’t that his sermon was all that amazing. But their granite hearts that nailed Jesus to the cross have been jackhammered through by the Holy Spirit, and they can now see the Treasure.
Acts 2:42-47 - along with this understanding sin comes the understanding of grace. They realize what a Treasure Jesus is, and everything else of earth they once treasured loses its shine. They are devoted to teaching, community, remembering, and prayer.
43 - Filled with awe - awe that God had chosen to save them. Being chosen by God isn’t like a schoolyard soccer game where the captains pick the fast and the strong first. The gospel says when we were enemies, weak, dead in our sin, God made us alive and didn’t just pick us for his team, but adopted us into his family, putting us in place for an inheritance that sets us for eternity.
44 - United – What’s mine is yours. My owning land isn’t what defines me. I’ll sell it if it helps you. My stuff doesn’t define me, I’ll sell it too if that helps you. Even eating food changed. Now even their meals were marked, not by gluttony or self-indulgence, but with joy and thankful hearts, praising God and enjoying each other’s company.
And 47 - no surprise, people wanted in on that. Daily, people were being brought to life by the power of the Holy Spirit as they saw the Treasure of Jesus.
So how does all this happen in the life of a Believer?
I want to know God. I want to read his word. I want the Holy Spirit’s power in me. I want to see the Treasure. What do I do?
Prayer turns the key that starts the engine. I don’t like to talk about reading the Bible in a message without giving you a practical step, and since we’re talking about prayer, let me close with this:
Before you read, understand your heart is the problem. It’s not that scripture is too hard to understand or too boring to be interesting. Our hearts are the problem. So before you even open your Bible, ask the Spirit to soften your heart, to help you want to read, to help you understand what you read, to help you see the Treasure in the verses you’re about to read. That is a prayer I guarantee God will answer over time.
During reading, I promise you will be distracted. You’ll have 500 other things cross your mind. You’ll have read a word that makes you think of two weeks ago when this or that happened or you saw that word on TV in a weird font.
Stop right there and pray about it. If you think about dinner, say, Father, thank you for food. I’m grateful that we have food to eat, and that you’ve been faithful to provide. Thank you for reminding me that you are the Bread of Life, and that you’ve given me this word as the most important food I need to eat today.
If your kids or your spouse interrupts you, thank God for them. Thank you Lord for reminding me that I depend on you for everything in this life like my children depend on me, or like my spouse needed my help. Thank you for being more patient with me than I am with them.
If your phone interrupts you, thank God for technology and communication. Thank you Lord, that even though I’m worried I will miss a text or a message, you never miss a prayer from me. You never let my concerns get two weeks down your list and forget to reply. Thank you for hearing me right at this very moment. Thank you that my value and worth doesn’t come from how many likes or comments I get from others, but that because of Jesus living and dying in my place, what you say about him is true of me: This is my Son/daughter with whom I am well pleased.
After you read, take a moment to pray about any of the verses that stand out to you. There is a reason it stood out. The Spirit drew your eye to that word or that verse. So pray about it.
Do you believe God wants you to know the Treasure that is Jesus? If so, do you think he would answer your prayer to help you read? To help you want to read? To help you understand what you read? ABSOLUTELY YES! So don’t trust your own wisdom to understand the depths of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you, and expect that he will.
And then be filled with the power to tell others about the Treasure you’ve seen.